Leadership & Staff


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  Betty Fang

Contact: bfang@childrensdefense.org Betty Fang focuses on increasing secondary and post-secondary education access for system-involved and formerly justice-involved youth. Previously, Betty worked for the Los Angeles County Office of Education as a member of the Williams team--auditing K-12 schools for legislative compliance--and supported data management for students receiving special education services. Prior to LACOE, Betty worked for the organization Children, Youth, and Family Collaborative as an academic case manager for foster and probation youth at a Los Angeles high school. There, she sought to improve students' secondary education, post-secondary education, and post-emancipation outcomes through individualized academic support and collaboration with caregivers, teachers, counselors, social workers, and probation officers. Betty has also taught in a variety of capacities--as an SAT instructor for first-generation college students at Upward Bound, as a creative writing teacher for [...]


  Dominique Nong

Contact: dnong@childrensdefense.org Dominique D. Nong is a director of youth justice policy for Children's Defense Fund-California. Based in Los Angeles, Dominique focuses on reducing youth contact with the justice system, expanding and reinvesting resources into youth development alternatives, protecting and supporting incarcerated youth, and empowering individuals directly impacted by the justice systems to meaningfully engage in government decision-making. Before joining CDF-CA, Dominique worked as an assistant public defender in the Baltimore City Juvenile Court Division of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender. Previously, as a Kenneth & Harle Montgomery Foundation Clinical Fellow in Northwestern Law School's Bluhm Legal Clinic, Dominique co-taught a juvenile and criminal defense clinic before creating the Pretrial Representation and Corrections Policy Project—a course dedicated to reducing Illinois' over-reliance on incarceration. Prior to Northwestern, Dominique was a staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law [...]


  Angelica Salazar

Contact: asalazar@childrensdefense.org Angelica focuses on advocating for policies that benefit vulnerable children and youth, particularly system-involved youth, and helps move them toward a pathway of school success and productive adulthood. Angelica monitors and promotes reforms in national, state, and local education policies, especially at the intersection of juvenile justice and education. Angelica previously worked at the Children's Defense Fund's headquarters in Washington DC and monitored federal legislation and national policies in juvenile justice. Prior to joining the Children's Defense Fund, Angelica was a middle school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District for three years, where she became committed to working to ensure public systems meet the needs of California's children and youth. Angelica earned her bachelor's degree in international relations and urban policy and planning at the University of Southern [...]


  Janis Lambert Connallon

Contact: jconnallon@childrensdefense.org Janis works to improve the health care delivery system for California's most vulnerable children and coordinates CDF-CA's work with the California children's health coverage coalition. Prior to joining the Children's Defense Fund, Janis worked to strengthen health care programs for children with special health care needs at the state and county-levels at the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health. She also represented the interests of children with special health care needs in Washington DC for Family Voices. She was instrumental, along with other advocates, in securing the passage of the Family Opportunity Act in 2005. Janis volunteers on the executive committee of the family partnerships network with American Academy of Pediatrics. She began her public health career working on state immunization campaigns with former first lady, Rosalyn Carter, and Senate [...]


  Kruti Parekh

Kruti Parekh leads the LA Youth Uprising Coalition which CDF-CA is an anchor organization and will be working with the youth justice team. Kruti has spent the last 14 years working to increase resources and a healthy safety net for young people in Los Angeles while organizing to interrupt the fully resourced systems that harm, endanger and incarcerate young people. She did so in partnership with the Youth Justice Coalition where she coordinated its community, education, youth development, organizing, advocacy and movement building work. Kruti  is a certified coach for Healing & Justice and as such she coaches leaders in the healing and justice arenas to improve personal and community outcomes. She has been working with young people and families in the most marginalized communities in both New York and Los Angeles for 20 years. Kruti  has a Bachelor’s Degree from [...]


  Sevly Snguon

Sevly (they/them/theirs) is a lead for our economic and health justice team. Previously, Sevly worked for Long Beach Forward as a research & policy analyst where they implemented community research methodologies that highlight community needs and inform strategies to create systems and policy change. There, Sevly was a lead for the Long Beach Community Health Needs Assessment focus groups that informed the needs of historically underrepresented residents in Long Beach, such as LGBTQ+, veterans, Black mothers, and Cambodian elders. In addition, they designed surveys and protocols to measure social cohesion and resident power among early childhood education advocates. Prior to Long Beach Forward, Sevly worked as a social epidemiology research assistant at Johns Hopkins University where they conducted statistical analyses to measure social factors and adverse health outcomes. Sevly also worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as [...]


  Milinda Kakani

Mili joins the CDF-CA team as senior policy associate on the youth justice team. Before joining CDF-CA, Mili was a supervising attorney for Public Counsel’s Transition Age Youth Project. In that capacity, she represented system-involved youth, supervised a team of attorneys and social workers, and supported coalition work addressing the collateral consequences that come with having contact with the foster and juvenile court systems. Prior to that, she worked at the Bronx Defenders’ Family Defense Project, where she represented parents working to keep their families together and worked to address the disproportionate representation of minorities dealing with the foster system. Previous to law school, Mili was a member of the New York Teaching Fellows Program and spent two years teaching 6th graders in the Bronx. Mili earned her law degree from University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2008. She [...]


  Michael Ball

Michael Ball supports our education equity team and will focus on helping build the case to change school funding and governance laws that bend more toward equity and racial justice. Michael recently graduated law school from the University of Southern California. Last summer, he worked with Bet Tzedek in their employment rights division on plaintiff's issues from harassment to wage issues and learned more about community lawyering through meetings with one of Bet Tzedek's partner coalitions and organizing groups. In law school, Michael served with the International Refugee Assistance Program (IRAP) and Latino Law Students Association (LLSA) to help law students advocate for refugees' right to seek asylum and to foster community within the law school (respectively). In his final year, Michael studied in Brazil where he took personal interest in the education component of the country's Bolsa Familia program (a [...]


  Aditi Sherikar

Aditi is a policy associate on the youth justice policy team. Prior to joining CDF-CA, Aditi was a policy leader within the progressive prosecution movement, serving as the director of juvenile diversion programs at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. In that role, Aditi innovated and implemented a wide-sweeping expansion of juvenile diversion, with particular focus on replacing carceral responses with community-based options designed to keep young people out of the court system. Aditi is a Bay Area native and has returned to California, eager to use her experience to advocate for bold, holistic change. Prior to joining the public sector, Aditi was in private practice at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP where she was a managing associate in the firm’s corporate group. Aditi graduated from University of California, San Diego in 2010 and earned her law degree from Georgetown University Law [...]

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